More Maps to Go
First let me tell you that I LOVE your articles! Very well written. I just read the one you did on maps and would like to pass along a site I found and use, the Nationalatlas.gov site.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks for letting me know, Timothy. These are great guides to (US) federal lands and Indian reservations. Just the ticket for trip planning.
The "Lord of the Trees" on Isle Royale
Enjoyed your article on the red squirrel ["Lord of the Trees" — Editor]. It brought back great memories of a summer spent on Isle Royale, doing a fire ecology research project for the Park Service. We had a base camp near Rock Harbor, and the red squirrels knew we had food stored there, secured in a heavy wooden crate. They would wait until we were preparing a meal, then make a beeline for the open crate whether or not our backs were turned. It was a wonderful cat‑and‑mouse game trying to stay ahead of them.
While we were at backwoods campsites, our food was only protected by our packs. There are no bears on Isle Royale, but the presence of red squirrels made keeping food out of our tents a necessity, lest they chew through the fabric. I watched in awe one time as a red squirrel, by skill or luck, used his appendage to open a zipper on the pack, then quickly extract a plastic bag filled with gorp. He deserved those morsels for that amazing effort.
The gray jays were pretty aggressive, too, but could be domesticated, after a fashion. Whenever we made frying‑pan bread, a pinch of dough held between an outstretched thumb and first finger would entice a hungry jay to perch on my hand and extract the dough before flying off. There's no such thing as a free lunch, even for birds. By manipulating the pressure with which I held the piece of dough, I could get the birds to work a bit longer and harder to get their reward. It was great entertainment.
I'm delighted that "Lords of the Trees" brought back so many good memories, Buck, and I got a kick out of your battles of wits with the gray jays and red squirrels of Isle Royale. I've never seen a squirrel open a zipper, but Farwell once wakened in a groggy stupor to see an uninvited guest — a skunk, as luck would have it — push through the half‑open door of his tent, unbuckle a canvas kit bag he'd left at the foot of his sleeping bag, lift the bag's flap, rummage through the remnants of his lunch, and select a midnight snack of nuts and raisins. The skunk then carefully closed the flap and went on about his business, leaving Farwell alone to ponder his narrow escape.
Needless to say, Farwell doesn't keep food in his tent anymore. Not all nocturnal visitors are as well‑mannered (and even tempered) as that skunk!
Simple and Good — Vegetarian Camping
Nice article. ["Eating Well in the Backcountry Without Meat or Milk" — Editor]. I became aggressively vegetarian in 2006 in an effort to control cholesterol. I'm not vegan, but call it "worse than vegan," because vegans will eat things I won't, like coconut, and I use products like non‑fat dairy and honey that a vegan would not. My LDL has gone from 155 to 90, so the change has worked for me.
One of the pleasant surprises in going vegetarian is it greatly simplified my camping trips. I no longer need to concern myself with a cooler. Camp hygiene is easier. Subjectively, I seem to have less problems with animals around camp — without meat's scent around, the animals seem less interested. So, it surprised me that in your article you write about vegetarian camping being more challenging than carnivore camping. I feel quite the opposite is true. Vegetarian camping is simpler.
One of my staples since going veggie has been soy protein powder. Carbs are wonderful, but a veggie needs protein, too, and protein powder is an easy way to get it. At home, I usually blend it in smoothies with all kinds of juices, berries, and nuts. But on the river, it's usually just juice or water. For paddling campers, weight is not an issue, so I just bring bottled (plastic bottles, please — no breaking and easier to pack out) juice. On longer trips where space or weight is an issue, I bring some sort of powdered drink mix and add that to water and soy protein powder. Typically, this works as lunch for me. Using soy protein powder is a tip I think you should have included for veggie paddlers.
I got some new ideas from the recipes you presented. Thanks for the great article.
I'm glad you enjoyed "Eating Well in the Backcountry," Chip, and a hearty well‑done on bringing down your cholesterol without recourse to costly meds.
I take your point about the simplicity of vegetarian meal‑planning and provisioning. The "challenge" I alluded to in my article is simply the difficulty that most of us experience when we leave familiar paths for new territory. The way ahead may indeed be easy, but until we've walked some distance down the trail, we can't be sure. Overcoming those nagging early doubts is the challenge I had in mind.
Thanks, too, for the tip about soy protein powder. I'd never used it. Now I will.
And Chip wrote back:
Ah, the challenge! You're right there. I remember, when I started eating this way, meal planning was a horror. I only knew about five dishes to cook. As my repertoire expanded, I came to an opposite view. Now, I kind of feel sorry for meat eaters, because there is so much more variety out there that meat eaters never try.
And Tamia responded:
My experience mirrored yours — up to a point, at any rate. I'm not a vegetarian, but meat certainly plays a much smaller part in my diet than it once did. And I, too, found meatless meal planning a bit of a hurdle at first. Now, however, it's become second nature. And my culinary horizons are much broader as a consequence. Thanks again for writing.
Of Streamlines, Dorothy Parker, and Gluttonous Bears
Enjoyed your article ["A Discourse of Rivers: Current Affairs" — Editor]; sorry you didn't take to A. A. Milne. What was Dorothy Parker's reaction? I thought I knew most of her wonderful responses to popular favorites.
I wonder if you might consider using another word for "streamlines." The word associates itself too strongly with "streamlining" and "streamlined", especially in the context of laminar and shooting flow and other aspects of hydrodynamics. Perhaps confusion, for readers new to whitewater and its vocabulary, would be avoided by "current lines" or "flow lines" or some other such substitution. I don't think your use of "streamlines" is wrong, just that any distraction or opportunity for misunderstanding (even if only momentary) should be avoided, and that expository prose should be as pellucid as the meltwater of which you write.
I'm glad you found "Current Affairs" of interest, Jim. As you know already, I'm sure, Dorothy Parker reviewed books for the New Yorker during the 1920s and '30s, writing under the byline "Constant Reader." And her reaction to The House on Pooh Corner was characteristically acerbic, if more than a little arch:
And it is that word "hummy," my darlings, that marks the first place in "The House on Pooh Corner" at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.
My response to Milne's classic was less extreme, I admit, but I can't say I'm a fan. Maybe I ought to give the book another go, however.
Changing tack now: I can see how my use of "streamlines" could lead to confusion. I haven't gotten any mail from puzzled readers to date, but I can't be sure I didn't lead a least a few folks astray. That said, I don't think I need to rewrite the copy immediately. We're planning a thoroughgoing — and long overdue — review of all the In the Same Boat articles, both old and new, and this will be the perfect opportunity to…er…streamline "Current Affairs."
In the meantime, thanks for all your help, past and present, in navigating the shoal waters of the English language.